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Use the Salesforce, Google

Maybe John Gage was right. Maybe the network is the computer.

Gage, chief researcher in the science office for Sun Microsystems, coined the phrase to illustrate the importance of the company he helped found. Sun still uses the tagline today.

Very appropriate, I'd say. So, apparently, would Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , which yesterday agreed to partner with (NYSE: CRM  ) by offering the latter's online customer service software with the formerly lightweight Google Apps suite.

It sounds cool, doesn't it? An entire business suite -- word processing, spreadsheets, customer management software -- all available via your Web browser. Mix in Adobe's (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) Flex technology, which makes browser-based applications available even when no connection is present, and it's becoming clear that software-as-service (SaaS) has an increasingly bright future.

Interestingly, Google's betting heavily on that future. DoubleGoo last week unveiled a preview version of "App Engine," which -- put simply -- frees up a portion of the search king's global infrastructure for the development of Web-based software. Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) has something similar via its Web services offering.

The rub? The network (ahem) is the computer.

Or, maybe, "is going to be the computer." SaaS, while interesting, isn't yet displacing traditional software vendors. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) , and SAP (NYSE: SAP  ) all still collect billions from applications you install on the machine on your desk or in your data center.

So let's take this for what it is: another step down a long road towards Gage's ultimate vision of network-centric computing. A vision that Google seems determined to realize.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 09, 2008, at 11:42 AM, fongfong200 wrote:

    Network can only be the computer when there is enough people using it. Google's approach of providing free features for people to use is a good way of attracting people to the Network.

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